Skip to Content

Our first Fall Policy Boot Camp will be October 3rd! Register by September 29.

Cliff, slope, or hostage crisis?

by | December 11th, 2012 | Posted in Budget, Economy, Taxes | Comments (0)

Since the election, Washington DC has been consumed by debate over the “fiscal cliff,” a number of large spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect at the beginning of next year.

Due to the spending cuts, Oklahoma would receive about $100 million less in federal funding, with education programs for high-poverty, special education, and very young students from low income families especially affected. One estimate projects the spending cuts would eliminate 16,000 jobs in Oklahoma over the next 15 months

On the tax side, income tax rate increases would cost a median-income Oklahoma family of four (earning $63,100) about $2,200. That’s on top of a payroll tax increase and reductions in the federal Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that would especially harm low-income families. The Congressional Budget Office reports that not acting to avoid the fiscal cliff would send the economy back into recession.

Continue Reading »

Jeff Alderman: Missouri analysis shows economic benefits of Medicaid expansion

by | December 10th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (3)

Jeff Alderman, MD is an associate professor at OU-Tulsa, and a regular contributor to OK Policy’s blog

Governor Mary Fallin recently decided to forego Medicaid expansion for low-income adults in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act.  The Governor asserted that Oklahoma’s cost for Medicaid expansion would approach $475 million between 2014 and 2020, which would significantly jeopardize critical parts of the state’s budget like education and public safety.

As OK Policy has shown, the Governor overstates the true cost of Medicaid expansion by making unrealistic assumptions, while ignoring potential savings and new revenues. A newly released study commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Administration further calls Governor Fallin’s projections into doubt. Using sophisticated research tools, including highly regarded economic software called IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning), researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and a Vienna, Va.-based health consulting firm concluded that expanding Medicaid in Missouri (which has nearly double the population of Oklahoma) would cost the federal government $8.2 billion and the state $333 million between 2014 and 2020. Yet, the report strongly suggests that Missouri would actually generate additional revenue from Medicaid expansion, resulting from increased jobs and stronger economic growth in the health care sector that would produce a windfall of taxes to state coffers over seven years. Specifically, the study found Medicaid expansion in Missouri over seven years would: 

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Secretary of State Glenn Coffee plans to resign

by | December 10th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Secretary of State Glenn Coffee announced that he is stepping down to pursue an opportunity in the private sector. Gov. Mary Fallin and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said the state budget and a possible tax cut hinge largely on whether Congress is able to avert the looming fiscal cliff. Tulsa-area lawmakers said common education will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session, and there likely will be an increase in state aid in the new budget. The lawmakers cited a report showing that per pupil expenditures in Oklahoma public schools have dropped more than 20 percent since 2008. 

The okeducationtruths blog examined how poverty affected schools’ ranking on the new A-F report cards. Math, science, social studies and history teachers will infuse their teaching with reading and writing instruction as part of Oklahoma’s move to Common Core Standards in 2014. University of Oklahoma President David Boren said he hopes lawmakers will restore $100 million in funding to higher education, half of what has been cut since 2009.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to reject federal money to expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program has led a member of the Oklahoma State Board of Health to resign. Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, wrote that the Governor’s decision ignores the predicament of many hard-working Oklahomans in low wage jobs. The Tulsa World wrote that the debate of the Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma is not over.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation refuse to release records that every other law enforcement agency in the state is required to make public. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is seeking a law to force private prison companies to provide information concerning “a riot, escape or other serious emergency and facility operations upon request of Oklahoma DOC.” In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog reports that more than half of the states have made decision on whether to join the Medicaid expansion, and twice as many states have said yes than have declined.

Continue Reading »

The Weekly Wonk: December 7, 2012

by | December 7th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week Oklahoma Policy Institute discussed how the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could give more than 9,000 young Oklahoma immigrants a shot at the American Dream.  We blogged about expanding access to microcredit, and how it empowers companies employing 5 or fewer workers, which make up 88 percent of Oklahoma’s businesses.

A guest blogger reviewed a new report from ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and Arthur Laffer and detailed how their recommendations would fail to produce prosperity in the states.  The OK Policy Blog revealed why rising inequality is bad for business.  

Our director David Blatt explained in his Journal Record column why persistent and widening economic inequality erodes the quality of life in Oklahoma.  Policy Analyst Kate Richey was quoted in an Urban Tulsa Weekly article about how the state’s recently enacted affirmative action ban might affect city contracting. 

Policy Notes

Numbers of the Day

  • 5,696 – Number of state and federal prisoners in Oklahoma being held in private prison facilities, 21.8 percent of all the state’s prisoners
  • 77 – The number of occupational fatalities in Oklahoma in 2011
  • 15 percent – Percentage of Oklahoma’s public school funding (K-12) that comes from the federal government, 13th highest among the states in 2010-2011
  • $426,125,520 – The costs to Oklahoma in 2012 of the ongoing drought, including crops and livestock losses, wildfire damage and municipal costs
  • 23 – Number of states that have prohibited (15) or tightly restricted (8) payday lending, 2012

In The Know: Gov. Fallin says fiscal cliff would cost the state $137M

by | December 7th, 2012 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Gov. Fallin says Oklahoma will lose an estimated $137 million in federal funding, including $50 million for education and $40 million for health care, if Congress can’t reach an agreement to avoid mandatory budget cuts.  There is significant confusion among public officials about how to comply with the state’s Open Meeting and Open Records acts.

The executive director of the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust says a new national report on tobacco use prevention and cessation shows Oklahoma is “on the right track.”   The Oklahoma State Department of Education has a new testing contract, after canceling the first contract and rebidding, to avoid protestations over the contracts validity.  

An economist told business leaders at an OSU conference that the state will continue to experience economic growth in the next year.  Expanding access to microcredit can help empower companies employing 5 or fewer workers – which make up 88 percent of Oklahoma’s businesses.  Oklahoma works to keep Native languages alive in schools.

In today’s Policy Note, Economic Policy Institute looks at the job losses in store for the clean-energy sector if mandatory ‘sequestration’ cuts go through.  The Number of the Day is the number of state and federal prisoners in Oklahoma being held in private prison facilities.  

Continue Reading »

Extending the Ladder: How microcredit expands economic opportunity

by | December 6th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

This post was written by OK Policy intern John Davis. John recently graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelors in political science and a minor in history. He enjoys researching and writing on a diversity of topics and looks forward to continuing his education.  

Small businesses, particularly very small businesses, are a critical component of Oklahoma’s economy.  Microenterprises represent a distinct subset of small business, those with 5 or fewer employees and start up costs of under $35,000.  They comprise the bulk of businesses nationally and locally – 88 percent of Oklahoma’s 345,630 businesses are microenterprises.  One way Oklahoma policy makers can empower and sustain this economic activity is to strengthen microenterprise development organizations, which provide access to affordable credit, often essential to starting or expanding a business. 

‘Microcredit’ refers to small commercial loans made to individuals seeking to start or expand a microenterprise.  Many microenterprise owners lack access to mainstream financial services, because their capital needs are too small, they have insufficient credit history, or their enterprise has not been in operation for a sufficient amount of time.  This post explains how expanding microcredit options can empower owners and entrepreneurs and boost economic growth in Oklahoma. Microenterprises are a significant part of our overall economy, and an important avenue for low- and moderate-income individuals to move up the economic ladder.  CFED (Corporation for Enterprise Development) President Bob Friedman, highlighted the importance of microenterprise startups:

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Sen. Coburn says he prefers raising tax rates

by | December 6th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Sen. Tom Coburn said he prefers raising the tax rates on the wealthiest taxpayers to a proposal that would cap deductions for those making over $250,000 per year. The Obama administration said 1.3 million Oklahoma families would see their taxes increase if no action is taken to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said significantly changing or replacing Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system was more important that tax reform. NewsOK writes that better pay for Oklahoma troopers and prison guards should be a legislative priority in 2013. The Tulsa World discussed the state’s continuing struggles with rising incarceration.

On the OK Policy Blog, we explain why rising inequality is bad for business. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed more reasons why we should take inequality more seriously. Kansas is facing a drop of $705 million in revenue brought on by the tax cuts. An OSU economist estimates 26,600 jobs will be added in Oklahoma in 2013.

A-F grades for Oklahoma school districts throughout the state were released by the state Education Department. The private vocational school ATI abruptly closed its two Oklahoma City campuses last week, after its programs in Texas had their certification revoked for substantial misreporting of graduate employment rates. Federal geologists have determined that a damaging Oklahoma earthquake was induced by disposal wells used in drilling.

The Number of the Day is the number of occupational fatalities in Oklahoma in 2011. In today’s Policy Note, Matthew Yglesias explains why raising the Medicare eligibility age would cost patients about twice as much as it would save the government.

Continue Reading »

Inequality is bad for business

by | December 5th, 2012 | Posted in Economy, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

This afternoon, the State Chamber of Oklahoma is hosting a public affairs forum with a keynote speech titled “Defending the Dream: Why Income Inequality Doesn’t Threaten Opportunity.” The speech will be delivered by David Azerrad from the Heritage Foundation, who co-authored a report which claims that we shouldn’t care about income inequality and that those who do are just envious of the rich.

In the real world, a large body of research shows that rising inequality is dangerous for all of us. Over the past few decades, inequality in the U.S. has risen to extreme levels, and it has already reached at point at which it is hampering economic growth, creating economic instability, and damaging our human capital.

Inequality threatens American opportunity for these reasons:

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma Supreme Court rules two anti-abortion laws unconstitutional

by | December 5th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that laws requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them while they hear a description of the fetus and that ban off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs are unconstitutional. Attorneys for the federal government said in a court filing that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act is speculative, conjectural and fails to meet the test of law

Gov. Fallin asked President Obama not to shift costs onto the states with federal budget reductions. OK Policy previously discussed what scheduled federal budget cuts could mean for Oklahoma and for education in Oklahoma. State Treasurer Ken Miller wrote a column in defense of conservatism from “ideologically-driven interest groups” like Americans for Tax Reform and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. A guest post on the OK Policy Blog explains why ALEC’s and Arthur Laffer’s recommendations are worthless for increasing prosperity in the states. 

About 7,000 Oklahomans could lose extended federal unemployment benefits if Congress doesn’t renew the program by the end of the year. Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent told a state Supreme Court referee that a charter school bill amended in the final days of the 2012 Legislature to include a $30 million appropriation for textbooks is unconstitutional. The American Prospect has an in-depth profile of Oklahoma’s nationally leading universal pre-K program. Lottery officials said education in the state will receive nearly $500,000 less than estimated earlier.

 Oklahoma is returning to a two-party state after election officials voted to no longer recognize the Americans Elect Party. A Cleveland County judge ruled in favor of Republican Rep. Aaron Stiles, saying he beat Democrat Paula Roberts for the House District 45 seat. Attorney Stephen Gold writes in NewsOK four reasons why the governor should reconsider her position on joining the Medicaid expansion. See resources from OK Policy on why expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma makes sense.

The Number of the Dayis the percentage of Oklahoma’s public school funding (K-12) that comes from the federal government. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress has released a major deficit-reduction plan that would achieve progressive, revenue-enhancing, efficient, simplifying, and pragmatic tax reform along with pragmatic spending cuts that do not undermine the middle class, the poor, or seniors.

Continue Reading »

Guest Blog (Michael Lipsky): ALEC’s and Arthur Laffer’s worthless recommendations for prosperity in the states

by | December 4th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Taxes | Comments (0)

Michael Lipsky is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos. This post originally appeared on the Policy Shop blog.

For most of its history ALEC has operated in the background, but its influence recently drew the spotlight when its promotion of “Stand Your Ground” laws came to light in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida.  Faced with the potential of consumer boycotts, corporate sponsors such as McDonald’s and Pepsi withdrew their support.  Henceforth, the organization announced, it would concentrate on state economic policy.

State legislators who might look to the organization for leadership on economic policies should be wary of following ALEC’s lead in this arena.  A startlingly candid report, “Selling Snake Oil to the States,” just released by the Iowa Policy Project and the Washington-based Good Jobs First, shows that ALEC’s recommendations for producing economic growth in the states are essentially worthless.

Continue Reading »